Our 46th Year
FOR THE MEETING TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2011
Meets Fourth Tuesday; January-November
Founded March 1964
Second Presbyterian Church
600 Pleasant Valley Drive
Program at 7 p.m.
Jan Sarna, President
Rick Meadows, Editor
RMeadows@aaamissouri.com / email@example.com
Dues $20 Per Year
VISIT THE BATTLEFIELDS WHEN YOU CAN…
WHILE YOU CAN
Dr. Richard B. McCaslin
“A Soldier’s Letter to Charming Nellie”
Dr. Richard McCaslin will be our guest speaker Tuesday night. His discussion will be centered on the collection of letters by Joseph B. Polley. Dr. McCaslin will answer when, how, and why Polley wrote the letters. Polley was a member of the 4th Texas Infantry in Hood’s Texas Brigade. The 3rd Arkansas Infantry was part of this Brigade, and Dr. McCaslin will share some insights on this regiment as it served in the Army of Northern Virginia. This work was published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2008, and Dr. McCaslin will bring a few copies to autograph.
McCaslin received his B.A. at Delta State University in 1982, his M.A. at LSU in 1983, and his Doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. Since 2008 McCaslin has been chair of the history department at the University of North Texas. Some of his awards and works include:
2008 Douglas Southall Freeman Award for his work, Portraits of Conflict (3 volumes)
2003 The Last Stronghold: The Campaign for Fort Fisher (for Whitney Foundation)
2001 Laney Prize for Lee in the Shadow of Washington
“One of the most cited collections of letters by a Civil War soldier, A Soldier’s Letters to Charming Nellie was originally published in 1908. A unit history of the 4th Texas Infantry in epistolary form, Joseph B. Polley’s letters make available the correspondence of a soldier who participated in virtually all military action in the Eastern Theater. Polley was an unusually gifted writer, with a talent for satire and humor unmatched by most Civil War diarists.
While the collection met with an enthusiastic audience upon its appearance, it has not been without controversy. Scholars have debated some of the letters’ authenticity; many appeared in the Confederate Veteran long after the end of the war, and questions remain about whether they were all written during the Civil War or if some were composed at the turn of the century or later.
In this definitive, annotated edition, Richard B. McCaslin has prepared new transcriptions of the letters and compared variant versions of them, resolving many of the historiographical puzzles that surround this wonderful collection. The volume will aid historians interested in the activities of the Army of Northern Virginia and its commanders, and especially students of Hood’s Texas Brigade.” (Courtesy UT Press)
Black History Month
Several years ago I was asked by a high school student, why do you study the Civil War? Her thoughts focused on slavery and the hardships faced by them. Discussions about the Constitution and the limited power of the Federal Government never materialized.
Without studying the Civil War, I never would have learned about William Carney. Carney, born a slave in Norfolk, Virginia, received the Medal of Honor for his action during the Battle of Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina on July 18, 1863.
Carney served as a Sergeant in the 54th Massachusetts, a volunteer infantry regiment made famous in the movie “Glory”. After the color bearer was hit and the flag began to fall, Carney secured the flag but was hit several times as he planted the American Flag at the parapet of the fort. Carney received wounds in the chest, arm, and leg. After retreating back to the safety of the Federal lines, Carney turned the colors over and said, “Boys, I only did my duty. The flag never touched the ground.”
As we celebrate Black History month, let’s not forget men like William Carney who received the Medal of Honor 37 years later. Yes, he did his duty.
What was the role of blacks in the Confederate Army?
Historians are mixed with their answers. Many served as cooks, musicians, barbers, laborers, ambulance drivers, and personal body servants. Did any take up arms and fight for the South? The Civil War Gazette wrote “The best evidence that blacks even served in the butternut uniform as official soldiers is suggested by records related to some blacks serving in a regiment from Louisiana and one perhaps from South Carolina.” March 2008
Black Southerners in Gray: Essays On Afro-Americans in Confederate Armies, edited by Richard Rollins, Murfreesboro, 1994, is one source to consider. Appendix B in this work lists Confederate units that blacks served, including 8 in Forrest’s headquarters. Speaking about a lack of written records, black historian James Brewer has said, “the omission of the Confederate Negro from the pages of history seems like a striking instance of the death of the unfit in the struggle for historical survival.” Rollins, pg 131
Rollins writes that this lack of interest in black Confederates began to change a few years ago (prior to 1994). “Two scholarly articles have appeared, the best of which, Arthur W. Bergeron’s “Free Men of Color in Gray,” graced the pages of Civil War History XXXII (1986, 247-255).” Rollins encourages the reader to see H.C. Blackerby, Blacks in Blue and Gray: Afro-American Service in the Civil War, Tuscaloosa, 1973.
How many blacks were there in Confederate armies? Unfortunately, it will not be possible to form an accurate answer. An English observer estimated there were 30,000 black servants in the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862. Dr. Lewis Steiner, a member of the U.S. Sanitary Commission who happened to be in Frederick, Maryland, in the days just before Sharpsburg, noted their presence in the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862. He writes in his diary:
“Wednesday, September 10
At 4 o’clock this morning the Rebel army began to move from our town, Jackson’s force taking the advance. The movement continued until 8 o’clock P.M., occupying 16 hours. The most liberal calculation could not give them more than 64,000 men. Over 3,000 Negroes must be included in the number…They had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc. They were supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., and they were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederacy army. They were seen riding on horses and mules, driving wagons, riding on caissons, in ambulances, with the staff of generals and promiscuously mixed up with all the Rebel horde.” Rollins pg 76 (Quoted in Isaac W. Heysinger, Antietam and the Maryland and Virginia Campaigns of 1862, New York, 1912, 122-123.)
Why do I study the Civil War? To remember the sacrifices that everyone made to mold our country into The United States.
Civil War Roundtable Speakers 2011
• March – Local historian Tom Ezell – “Arsenal Crisis in Little Rock 186”1
• April – Dr. Michael Dougan – “Apostrophes to the Stars and Stripes: The Arkansas Secession Convention”
• May – Dr. Carl Moneyhon – History Professor at The University of Arkansas in Little Rock – “Lincoln and the Constitution”
• June – TBA
• July – TBA
• August – Mark Christ – “Spence Brothers from Arkadelphia and 1861”
Civil War Bullets from Rick
Save these dates!
• March 5 – Jacksonport State Park “We Knew Nothing of War” Questions of a Civil War Soldier. Dr. George Lankford and Mark Christ of the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission will speak from 10 -11:45 a.m. Topic will center on William E. Bevens, a private from Jackson County. For additional information call 870-523-2143 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• March 25-27 – Shiloh Battlefield Tour with Ed Bearss and Gail Stephens Sponsored by the District of Columbia CWRT, Cost $500/person single occupancy and $400/ person double occupancy. Tour’s base in Nashville, Tennessee. For additional information call 201-306-4988 or email@example.com
• April 23 – DeValls Bluff Sesquicentennial Event. Prairie County Community Center. Series of programs commemorating the crucial role DeValls Bluff played in the Civil War, including a period chapel service, a re-enactment cannon crew, and the dedication of five new Civil War wayside markers. Chapel service will begin at 9:00 a.m. Rev. Francis Springer, of the 10th Illinois Cavalry, Chaplain of the U.S. Army of the Frontier will be portrayed. Support from the Bill and Sharon Arnold Family Foundation. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
• April 30 – Kick-Off Event at the Old State House Museum 10-4 Visitors will see a special screening of the new AETN documentary about the Civil War; special documents on exhibit from the Arkansas History Commission, such as the 1861 Arkansas Constitution and the original secession document; and the first of five exhibits put on by the Old State House Museum about the Civil War, titled An Enduring Union.
Last month we celebrated Roundtable member Don Hamilton’s birthday. Can anyone guess whose birthday it will be on Tuesday? Come and see!
Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc
2011 Membership Dues
Membership dues for 2011 are to be paid now. These monies help to pay for the transportation and lodging costs of our speakers. Printing costs for our newsletter and brochures we have at various locations in Central Arkansas are also supported by your dues. In addition, monies are used for the wayside signs for the Campaign for Little Rock that the CWRT of Arkansas purchases and maintains.
Additional monetary gifts that you make will be used for preservation efforts for Civil War battlefields and places of historical importance related to the Civil War.
2011 Membership Dues Statement
$20 per year, Make Checks payable to:
The Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc.
(Please disregard this notice if dues have already been paid)
Address City State Zip Code
______________________________________________________________________________________Phone e-mail address
Membership dues ……………………………….. $20
Additional $$ for preservation………………………______
Brian Brown, Treasurer
The Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc.
P.O. Box 25501
Little Rock, AR 72221
Questions? Call Brain at 501-376-2981
Hope to see you Tuesday with Dr. McCaslin and Charming Nellie.